At the beginning of this year I decided that it was about time for a new release. Creating a collection which is more kind of chronology than an anthology. Primarily for myself, that was the thought I had in mind. However, it did not come as a surprise, that the original idea got modified once I made the first step.
I had a rough idea about the content and so I started collecting and recording tracks. At the same time I decided to look for someone mastering my files. Mastering myself in the box was a clear no go. It was about time to get someone not biased at all involved and therefore I started searching the net for professional mastering studios. I was looking for someone who listens to my records, understands the content and their meaning to me and the project, wich in the meantime changed the focus. And of course I wanted to receive as much honest feedback as possible to learn and avoid mistakes for future projects.
Due to the available budget, I had to cut the list down to a small number of studios. I sent every single one of them the same two tracks. In one case I could only upload and pay to get the process started, whereas in the others I had direct contact and prepared a dropbox file for download.
After some time I received the message that my files are ready for download and so I started to compare them. In German we have a saying which literally is „the first impression you only have once“ and therefore I took a lot of care to compare under the best possible circumstances. Right after the first round only two candidates remained. One very, very famous and another one actually going back to the old days of keyboards.de forum and soundcloud. After listening once again to the four files, two tracks mastered by „A“ and the same two mastered by „B“ I had a clear favorite. However, as it will hopefully not only be me who will listen to my release, I decided to involve some of my friends.
And that is the point now, where I need to explain a bit further. We are, or meanwhile actually „we were“ is more appropriate, as some of us moved to other places in the world, a group of four guys who named themselves „Die Herrenrunde“. Once per month we met for our „HAA“. HAA is the acronym standing for Herrenaudioabend. What sounds like fun, was fun, but with strict guidelines. Everyone one of us has a strong musical background and therefore our meetings always had a subject. The last was for example „Die beste Pause“. This might seem like a joke, but if you think about it and examples I am sure you will realize the challenge.
So, once the introduction ended we all shut up [completely, the only thing that was allowed was breathing… as long as it was not too loud] and listened carefully to the track which was played on a top notch audio system. Once the last tone ended with started to discuss about the music. Getting back to this project, so therefore it was clear to me what I had to do next. I needed to involve my friends, play all four tracks and ask them for their feedback.
Here is one of the two tracks, which was mastered by studio „A“ and studio „B“. The files for comparison are mp3s, whereas the original was a 96kHz/24bit wav.
Pilot outcome – Studio A:
Pilot outcome – Studio B:
No doubt, version A comes with more power. However, myself not being a fan of the loudness war, by the way neither are my friends, we had one main criteria which made us choose version B over version A. In version B the track forms one musical unit. An unbeatable argument for them and myself. And depending on the system used for auditioning there are „things“ audible in one version which aren’t in the other.
Now it is up to you to decide which version you think is better. I made my decision.